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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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Different dealers forced to offer different prices for same petrol

FUEL FOR THOUGHT: ‘With unrest in the Middle East etc it may be £2 per litre in two years’ time’

SIR – In response to the letter “Varying prices prompt queries” (The Whitehaven News, March 22) then here goes: you are always going to find price variances in different areas of Cumbria and farther up and down the country – this will never change.

Some stations are dealer-operated, like Hills, where they buy their fuel from BP on a deal which lasts for five years. Some are company-owned and company-operated, like many on motorways that have extremely high prices (a captive audience). Others are on franchises where you take the station on over a term of years, answering to the oil company.

What you have to do is sell fuel at your own commercial judgement to be able to make a small margin which is hopefully not too far away from the supermarkets. If we are too far away then it is because we need to make a nominal margin in relation to our cost price that week.

It’s all about juggling figures and clawing back your losses on fuel in the shop as my previous letter intimated.

It’s very easy to cherry-pick sites or emphasise those throughout the county that are a lot cheaper than the Hills group – I can name quite a few that are similar to ourselves which is a true figure to sell fuel at. Over the years many have closed in Cumbria, and many more will continue to close.

How do the sites in Egremont survive? How does Atkinsons (Esso) survive at the bottom of Inkerman Terrace when they are near supermarkets? It’s all a very complicated business that you only appreciate the full extent of if you are working in the industry.

Hills pays a fifth of a penny per litre bought to BP for participating in the Nectar scheme and 12p per card transaction. Someone putting £20 fuel in their vehicle and using a card swallows up most of the margin.

Shell coming into the area is most unlikely – they have a site in Carlisle with very competitive fuel pricing, and nice shop prices as well. The Hills group held talks with both Shell and Esso representatives, suffice to say they still use BP.

There are lots of risk assessment factors and location issues pulling fuel from terminals down country, Stanlow in Cheshire and others.

Fuel will continue to be a distress purchase for all concerned and with unrest in the Middle East etc it may be £2 per litre in two years’ time. In the meantime we all have a choice of using a local station or a supermarket if preferred – or I suppose if one is on one’s travels then nip into the site on the M74 and end up in Scotland. Long way to go for your fuel, though!


Longmile filling station

SIR – I feel I must congratulate Copeland Borough Council on a really fantastic achievement. Winning a national award? No, much more than that. They managed to travel, second class no less, all the way to London!

Welcome to the real world.

Not only that, they managed to bag the cheapest table at the Grosvenor Hotel in Mayfair and stayed in a “budget” hotel in Kensington for their overnight accommodation. Wow! That must have been really slumming it. Yet another posh nose-bag for them. Still, it only cost £3,000 of taxpayers’ money.

I notice there was no name mentioned for the budget hotel, could it have been a Premier Inn perhaps?


High Meadows, Whitehaven

SIR – I was interested to learn that Copeland Council had won an award for saving money. I then began to wonder how large this award is, as it has taken a party of 10 to collect.

If it is so big that it requires 10 people to collect, how did they get it back to Whitehaven? I hope they gave the job to a local firm: Tyson Burridge, or Eddie Stobart perhaps.

It seems that the irony of winning an award for “corporate governance”, and then wasting £3,000 on what is nothing less than a party at the taxpayers’ expense, has passed the councillors by.

Council Tax is taken from us by threat of legal sanction for the benefit of all, not to be wasted on councillors having a good time. Copeland has a history of wasting money, with over £7,000 spent on a new logo, and who knows what the bill is likely to be for the Rugby stadium. With a record like this,the idea of giving a pay rise of 30 per cent to a leader in charge of such profligate spending is absurd.


Fell View Park, Gosforth

SIR – The price of quality leadership (which is rare) an extra six thousand?? That’s nothing. It’s nothing to a merchant banker. And look at the path those idiots have led western society down... but they still roll in it!

Elaine Woodburn works her guts out for Copeland. The woman deserves some reward for all her work. Give her the money! In fact why don’t we round it off to a nicer “round figure” Maybe, ten thousand? Why not? She’s worth it as a leader!


Priory Drive, Cleator Moor

SIR – Following the report (The Whitehaven News, March 21) of the Copeland Council Leader’ proposed 30 per cent increase in her “special responsiblty” allowance, certain questions must be asked and observations made:

1. Why was it deemed necessary to make this extravagant proposal at this critical time in the economy?

2. Who exactly made the proposal? By how many votes was it passed?

3. It is reported that the proposed level of “special responsibility” pay is more than that of the leader of Cumbria County Council (a rather more important position than that held by Councillor Woodburn); and considerably more than that enjoyed by her opposite number in Allerdale.

4. Councillor Woodburn has been urged by the Conservative councillors in Copeland to decline acceptance of this proposed increase. By the time this letter appears in the Press her decision will probably be known. Did any Labour members support the Tories’ plea in this regard?

5. Finally, it raises the hoary old chestnut of “snouts in the trough” by councillors who, once upon a happy time, did their civic duty without thought or expectation of remuneration.



SIR – As a resident of Drigg, I would like to share my concerns about the proposed erection of an 80m wind turbine on raised ground at Drigg Moorside Farm.

Farming is an industry and, as such, has to be run to make a profit (I know, as I come form a farming family) but the use of wind turbines as a source of income goes against the ideals of most farmers. Farmers are seen as the “custodians of the land” and so should be looking after it – not scarring it with hideous structures whose effectiveness is now doubted by many nations.

How environmentally friendly is it to use many tons of reinforced concrete (the most un-environmentally friendly of products) in the base of the turbine and how much energy is used in the manufacture of the turbine itself? Each structure has a huge carbon footprint, so is it really in the best interests of the environment to build them?

The farmers are partly to blame, as they are willing to accept the large sums of money offered by the wind energy companies, and who can blame them? After all, everyone is greedy to some extent! However, the real fault lies with a flawed government policy that allows predator wind energy firms to offer huge incentives to put up these turbines.

Coun Woodburn and her colleagues at Copeland Council should also be criticised for their designation of West Cumbria as the “Energy Coast”. This has allowed wind energy companies to submit a rash of applications in this area. Perhaps one of these turbines should be in direct view of Ms Woodburn’s living room, as is happening to us in Drigg. How would she like the visual and noise pollution it causes?

Don’t say it will bring in jobs, as all the construction and maintenance of these turbines is carried out by specialists from outside Cumbria. The construction of wind turbines will actually have a negative financial impact on this area of exceptional natural beauty. Would you want to camp or stay in a holiday cottage less that 600m from a wind turbine towering 80m above you? I for one, would not, and would look to holiday elsewhere.

So please help us fight this planning application. Drigg is a lovely, rural setting which does not need a wind turbine. This may just be the start, as rumour has it that there is a second application for two more turbines on the same road from Drigg, but closer to Seascale. I would like Drigg to be known for its lovely views, not for the unsightly wind turbine towering over it.

PS: A note to Mr and Mrs Shepherd. I do hope that they will be changing the lovely image on their website for Shepherds Views Holidays which shows the campsite with Wasdale Valley in the background. The wind turbine should be added to the middle of this view, between Great Gable and Scafell.

Name and address supplied

SIR – As readers will realise, the process of finding the best site for the disposal of radioactive waste is a complex matter requiring extensive consultation, not least among those communities who may in future have to host such a facility.

The MRWS partnership has made much of its consultation, closing at the end of this week, as to whether West Cumbria should take any further part in the process.

In these circumstances I find it insensitive to say the least that the government, in the shape of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has just published its framework document outlining its plans for identifying potential host communities within a larger area.

Given that there is currently only one such volunteer area and the decision to participate further is yet to be made, we could be forgiven for suspecting a “done deal”.

Richard WRIGHT

Hardingill House, Gosforth

SIR – I totally agree with the recent letter about the Low Road bottleneck. My family moved to Mirehouse in 1956 and a relief road was proposed even then. That was 56 years ago. The question he rightly asks is why has nothing happened.

I notice our councillors failed to accept the invitation to update us on any progress and explain the lack of investment in the area by Cumbria County Council.

Ironically if the relief road had been built we would have no problems with access to the proposed new sports stadium.


Hillcrest, Whitehaven

SIR – I always enjoy reading Memory Lane in The Whitehaven News but I must admit last week’s item from 150 years ago left me shocked. I knew public executions were the norm until the 19th century but presumed they happened in large towns like Carlisle, Newcastle or York. To read that they also took place in Whitehaven stunned me. Who was the public hangman? Was he local? or did he come from further afield?

Where exactly in Whitehaven was the gallows set up? Or, heaven forbid, was it a permanent fixture!

I’m hoping our excellent group of local historians can come up with the answers, to these and many other questions concerning this awful but fascinating subject.


Grant Drive, Whitehaven

EDITOR’S NOTE: The execution of William Charlton was held in Carlisle – our apologies for not making that clear.

In the 19th century The Whitehaven News reported on events from around the world as well as major cities in the north such as Carlisle.

For the record, Charlton had murdered a 72-year-old widower for her money but was tracked down by a boot print he left in her garden.

SIR – How strange would Easter be if there were no Christians. Imagine Liverpool FC running on to the pitch with no one in the stands, or U2 taking the stage in an empty stadium!

Easter is about fame in reverse, someone so blameless, who opened the eyes of the blind, facing a storm of hatred so huge, and then dies!

The Biblical story is astonishing. Plotted against and condemned, Jesus, with an uncanny insight about everything around him, actually positioned his own death into its destined place in Jewish history. A victim, yet his whole persona was rooted in a hidden plan of the ages, with one single pain-enduring objective – acquittal. Ours!

He has already changed the course of history, there are now enough Christians to fill Liverpool-size stadiums multiple times over in every continent of the globe.

And you’ve guessed it, I’m a supporter!


Isel Road, Cockermouth

SIR – I’m delighted to learn the Olympic torch will be passing my home in Church Street, Whitehaven. Can I ask that the torch is left there?

Lamp-post number 8 (operated by Home Group) has been out of order for nearly a year and a half now and there seems little chance of it being repaired any time soon. The light from the torch would be greatly welcomed by the residents.


Church Street, Whitehaven

SIR – Cameron wants to privatise the police force. Let’s just consider what this could mean.

A private security company is a commercial business that wants to make a profit. Remember the excesses of wheel clamping companies?

This would mean the following list of things could happen.

1 Many officers could be laid off and then re-employed as trainers on less money.

2 The people they are likely to train will be cheap foreign labour who come from countries with a different policing ethic. Third world policing methods will be the norm.

3 Incentive bonus schemes will encourage officers to go for the easiest arrest that best benefit their pocket. Instead of warnings being given to miscreants they are likely to be given a fixed penalty ticket or arrested.

4 Investigating time-consuming serious crime will be put on the back burner as there would be no money in it.

The general public and society as a whole will be the ones to suffer and we should do all we can to encourage the Police Federation to fight these proposals.

It should be noted that a privatised police force would actually violate our constitution which has protected us from tyrannical leaders and rulers for over a thousand years.

Any violation of the constitution would constitute an act of treason.


Isleham, Ely

SIR – Week after week the scale of the mismanagement of the North Cumbria Health Trust is slowly but surely being revealed to the people of Copeland. First was the £20,000 per month for two years to Ms Heatly that was awarded after she had left the trust eight months previously and then went to work for another trust in Lancashire.

Previously, under Ms Heatly’s leadership, £75,000 of public money was donated to a Carlisle youth centre (I’m still waiting for a response from North Cumbria Health Trust three years later on who sanctioned this payment and under whose remit this was allowed).

The best is yet to come – under Mr Goodwin’s management, the trust paid a surgeon £20,000 for one week’s work and £14,000 for a gynaecologist for four days’ cover. These two professional doctors should examine their consciences after accepting this payment, and the entire North Cumbria Health Trust should be held accountable to a full public inquiry at all of these payments and at the £700,000 payments that has been made to managers for redundancy payments while a wage freeze was placed on all other medical and ancillary staff and a unnecessary reduction in services to the people of Copeland.

I now understand why Mr Goodwin is reluctant to face a public meeting and why Ms Heatly has chosen to work in New Zealand. When are our local MPs who were elected to represent the Public going to act on the unacceptable management practice of the North Cumbria Health Trust?

This is a wake-up call to our MPs and local councillors – please heed the warning. The public will not forgive easily any more downgrading of the West Cumberland Hospital, whether it be the Northumbria Health Trust or the North Cumbria Health Trust.

The nurses and ancillary staff at the West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary do not deserve to be treated the way they have been treated by the North Cumbria Health Trust.

Our MPs should remember that these workers, as well as the people of Copeland, have a vote – and long memories.


West Lane, Flimby


SIR – One answer to Lakes College’s joke banner “Why did the chicken cross the road...” trailed by a plane over West Cumbria last week (report March 8) is the cinema-goers reply: “To see Gregory Peck”.

I saw two unintentionally funny adverts. One in the Stornoway Gazette 1992: “Wanted – Old brass bed wanted by antique lovers”.

The other in the Chichester Observer, 1990s: “For Sale – six pairs of teenage jeans. May split”.

One misprint in my Quaker letter (March 8): their school near Wigton was Brookfield, not Broadlands. It closed some years ago, and then burnt down and was redeveloped.

Contrary to Raymond Hall’s belief (March 8) “women and children first” did apply on the Titanic, but there were exceptions. One such, Bruce Ismay, was never allowed to forget it after.


Drovers Lane, Penrith


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